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Quincy man clears first ‘Idol’ hurdle

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By Robert Allen

Jamareous Highman, said he wasn’t doing much talking this past Saturday night. He was saving his voice — because early in the morning on July 20, he was on his way to audition in Tallahassee for American Idol’s Season 14.
The singer was willing, however, to answer a few questions during a Times interview.
Highman, 23, has been performing since age 6 or 7 when he became involved with music at his church — an experience the Quincy man said “fostered a love for singing.”
“I never was afraid to go up and showcase what I thought was talent — but it wasn’t developed then,” said Highman. “Performing in public gave me a broader feel for what my voice could or couldn’t do.”
But public performance wasn’t enough. Highman said he needed to learn skills to support and shape his talent.
Since age 14, he has been a student of Rasheen Jamison-Richardson, head of The Legacy School of Performing Arts. Highman said this experience with his vocal teacher and mentor broadened his musical abilities and understanding.
The ‘American Idol’ audition is not the local singer’s first foray into the world of auditions for television competitions. Highman recently traveled to Washington. D.C., to audition for the program “Sunday Best,” a show featuring musical competitions between gospel singers, now in its seventh season on BET.
But Highman has been interested in auditioning for ‘Idol’ even longer.
“I’ve been a fan of the show since it first came out,” he said. “I’ve been glued to the television.”
According to Senior Producer Brian Robinson, around 2,200 hopeful singers performed for the judges over an eight-hour period at the Tallahassee Civic Center.
“I think the talent was strong here,” said Robinson during a Times interview after the auditions. “We definitely found people here we’re excited about.”
For his spot during the July 20 auditions, Highman sang “This Time” by John Legend, a song the performer said reflects his determination to demonstrate all his learned skill and natural talent to the program’s judges.
According to Robinson, another John Legend song, “All of Me,” was one of the most common selections this season, regardless of which city the show was visiting.
“We definitely had our share of country artists,” Robinson also said, explaining that’s expected, especially in southern cities.  
The producer said the judges also tend to hear many selections from Adel, Etta James, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.
“It’s one of the more difficult auditions because it’s hard to stand out in such a large crowd,” said Robinson.  
But this challenge didn’t dissuade Highman.
“I’m going in open minded,” said the local singer the afternoon before the audition. “I’m going in confident. My heart and passion will be felt — and I’m going to inspire someone.”
When contacted after the audition, Highman was unable to answer any questions from the press, according to the networks requirements. He did, however, refer The Times to his Facebook page where the network allows contestants to share their words about their experience.
“By the grace of God I made it through Tallahassee auditions for American Idol XIV,” Highman wrote in part on his wall. “My heart is overwhelmed with joy from the many calls, texts and social media posts from family, friends and supporters. Knowing that you all have my back is so humbling and means the world to me.
According to a publicist with the program, any performers still interested in auditioning have a short window of time to submit a video on the show’s official website.